22 January, 2013 Justin Mote
Over the last decade ‘gospel partnerships’ have formed in this country and beyond. But what do we mean by ‘partnership’? In what sense are churches in ‘partnership’ together? We use the word today. Google the word ‘partnership’ and you’ll get the John Lewis Partnership, The Civil Partnership Act, and the Ethical Tea Partnership! The word was also used secularly in the 1st Century. In Luke 5:10 James and John are described as Simon’s partners. The Galilean fishing partnership. The Greek word used is ‘koinonia’. It is often translated ‘fellowship’ or ‘sharing’.
New Testament writers, however, like Paul and John, use the word to describe the relationship that exists between Christians. First we look at the foundations for Christians and churches partnering together. In the introduction to his first letter, John tells us how partnership or fellowship comes into being. There are three things for us to notice.
1). WE HAVE PARTNERSHIP WITH THE APOSTLES
John writes so that his readers may be sure that they have ‘eternal life’ (1 John 5:13). This eternal life comes through the Word of life, which is Jesus. In chapter 1 and verse 2 John says that ‘the Word of life appeared’. In the same verse John says that ‘the eternal life, which was with the Father has appeared to us’. The ‘us’ is clearly the apostles. So in v1 John can say ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched.’ None of us today can make the same claim. None of us are old enough!
The apostles were eye-witnesses to Jesus, in whom alone is eternal life. But what they saw becomes what they then proclaim. So in v3 ‘We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard’. Three times in v1-3 John uses the language of ‘proclamation’.
I have only been to court once and it was not as the defendant! Instead I was a witness. I had seen an accident take place and I was called to give testimony to what I had seen. If I had remained silent the court would not have known what had happened. The apostles did not remain silent about what they had witnessed. They spoke it and wrote it. And the consequence in v3 is ‘so that you may have fellowship with us’.